Return north to Route 29 and drive east .6 mile to the crossover allowing you to get on the north side of the road by the driveway to Brawner's Farm. This is marked by a large metal gate securing a dirt driveway traversing about .5 mile to an unpainted farmhouse and outbuildings. Pull off 29 and park in the driveway entrance.
Jackson's force had occupied the ridge to the northeast for most of 28 August. The approach of King's Division in the evening caused the Confederate commander to open the battle. Jackson's reaction to King's presence was as follows.
He rode across the broomsedge fields to within easy musket range of the Union column. There he trotted his horse back and forth eyeing the blue troops. We could almost tell his thoughts by his movements. Sometimes he would halt, then trot on rapidly, halt again, wheel his horse and pass along the flank of the column. Then he pulled up suddenly, wheeled and came galloping toward us. "Here he comes, by God," said several and Jackson rode up to the assembled group [of officers] as calm as a May morning and, touching his hat in a military salute, said . . . "Bring out your men, gentlemen!" The Second Battle of Manassas was about to begin. (From an address by Hunter McGuire at the dedication of Jackson Memorial Hall, VMI)
Reaction in Doubleday's Brigade, Hatch's Division, along the Pike, as recorded by A. P. Smith in the 76th Regiment:
As the rebels opened this fire upon our Regiment, a shell passed through the ambulance train, causing great consternation among the drivers and teamsters. The ambulances were immediately ordered to the rear. Just as they were wheeling for that purpose, a frightened teamster on a baggage wagon put his whip to his horses in the act of forcing his way up the narrow road, without regard to ambulance loads of sick and wounded. Surgeon Metcalfe, of the Seventy-sixth, realizing the danger from such conduct in the crowded highway, quickly drew his pistol, and in his convincing style, informed the driver if he moved another inch he would end his fears. This had its desired effect. The teamster, finding himself between two fires, concluded to take the chances of the most remote, and thus a panic was avoided.
Previously, on 28 August at 1800 Gibbon's Brigade, King's Division, came under fire. Gibbon first committed the 2d Wisconsin on the assumption that the fire was cavalry (horse artillery) harassment.
... ordered the 2d Wisconsin to face to the left and march obliquely to the rear against these pieces to take them in the flank. As it rose an intervening hill it was opened upon by some infantry on its right flank. The left wing was thrown forward to bring the regiment facing the enemy, and the musket firing became very warm. The 19th Indiana was now ordered up in support and formed the left of the 2d Wisconsin whilst . . . the 6th and 7th Wisconsin were both ordered into line.
As recalled by Pvt. George Fairfield, the 7th Wisconsin came on line.
As soon as we emerged from the wood the rebels opened upon us with a terrible infantry fire. We steadily advanced to the brow of the hill . . . While we were arranging ourselves in line we could see their line which looked like a black mass . . . not more than fifty yards distant. . . . My God, what a slaughter. No one seemed to know the object of the fight, and there we stood one hour, the men falling all around; we got no orders to fall back, and Wisconsin men would rather die than fall back without orders.
The 19th Indiana came up to the farmhouse.
I formed my line of battle in the road, marched through a piece of woods some three hundred yards, came out into open ground gradually rising from about 3 or 4 hundred yards. The regiment went at double quick from the time it left the woods. On arriving on the top of the hill, crossed a fence and marched about 2 rods, when I halted the regiment. (As recalled by Col. Solomon Meredith)
The Confederates quickly came into position. General Taliaferro reported,
at this time our lines were advanced from the woods in which they had been concealed [into] the open field. The troops moved forward with splendid gallantry and in the most perfect order. Twice our lines were advanced until we had reached a farmhouse and orchard on the right of our line and were within about 80 yards of a greatly superior force of the enemy. Here one of the most terrific contests that can be conceived of occurred. Our troops held the farmhouse and one edge of the orchard, while the enemy held the orchard and the enclosure next to the turnpike. To our left there was no cover, and our men stood in the open field. . . . The enemy, although re-enforced, never once attempted to advance upon our position, but withstood with great determination the terrible fire which our lines poured upon them. . . . In this fight there was no maneuvering and very little tactics,
Taliaferro wrote after the war. "It was a question of endurance, and both sides endured."
The 2d Virginia was opposite the 7th Wisconsin, east of the farmhouse,
we were then ordered to advance, when our column moved steadily forward in full view of the enemy's line. On descending a knoll some 150 or 200 yards from the enemy our line was opened upon with a most terrific and deadly fire of musketry from the enemy's line in the edge of the woods and behind a fence.